Strengthening Antenatal Care for Indigenous Women in Guatemala: Our Impact

{Photo credit: MSH Staff}Photo credit: MSH Staff

Access to effective antenatal care (ANC) was already a challenge for indigenous women and adolescents in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Quetzaltenango department in particular has high poverty and fertility rates, and substandard access to health services. In 2019, MSH began working to strengthen antenatal care (ANC) in Quetzaltenango using a group care model to improve women’s experience of pregnancy and improving birth outcomes.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, pregnant women participating in group antenatal care sessions met to share experiences, receive health information, form social bonds, and track the progress of their pregnancies. Photo credit: MSH staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every facet of daily life in Guatemala, including women’s access to antenatal care services (ANC). Under normal circumstances, MSH’s Strengthening Antenatal Care for Mayan Women Project, supports group ANC sessions, providing a safe space for women to receive peer support and accurate health information with the guidance of a nurse. However, with the current government restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is no longer possible to meet.

Guatemala, like many parts of the world, is on lockdown, with curfews put in place by the Guatemalan government in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Gatherings of any size are prohibited and these restrictions have affected MSH’s Strengthening Antenatal Care Project in the department of Quetzaltenango, which brings together pregnant Mayan women for group antenatal care (ANC) sessions.As of April 15, 2020, Guatemala has recorded 196 cases of COVID-19, including 5 deaths and 19 recovered patients.